Dunkin’s Mixed Up Genetics

Clarksville, MD

They met the breeder at a Dunkin’ Donuts and made the exchange of money. He was adorable, but what Dachshund puppy isn’t?

At eight weeks old, both Aimee and her daughter, Courtney, fell in love with him, naming him Dunkin after the franchise where they met their new companion. A social butterfly, any time Courtney’s friends came over, Dunkin was right in the middle of it all. Happy, playful, and a joy to all who met him; Dunkin was the light of Aimee’s world.

But by the time he was eight months old, Dunkin was having recurring urinary infections. Although he remained playful and active, he was constantly on an antibiotic. Aimee’s vet was stumped and thought that once Dunkin was neutered the infections would stop, but they didn’t.

That’s when he recommended exploratory surgery to find out the source of the constant infections. What the surgeon found was rare and shocking. It was also the cause of Dunkin’s life threatening infections.

Termed a “pseudo hermaphrodite,” Dunkin had partially formed sex organs for both a male and a female. Worse, his case was more severe because he had both a penis and a prostate. (Testicles were removed when he was neutered.) Outwardly, Dunkin was born a boy, but he was also part female!

Interestingly, Dunkin also suffered from alopecia, a hair loss condition. Tests showed that elevated estrogen levels were the most likely cause of his alopecia.

Dunkin’s prostate had formed large cysts which puddled urine in the prostate causing the recurrent infections. The surgeon cleaned up the area as much as she could, removing excess skin so it wouldn’t be as hard for Dunking to urinate.

When Aimee’s vet broke the news to her, she was shocked. She knew that something was really wrong with Dunkin, but she never in a million years guessed that her dog was suffering from a genetic condition.

Dunkin’s condition caused the little dog to urinate small amounts throughout the day. Many times, he simply couldn’t hold his urine and he had accidents in the house all the time. “I buy a bottle of carpet cleaner a week,” Aimee told us.

But the cysts kept coming back and growing. By the time Dunkin was three, the infections no longer came and went; they were constant, forcing him to stay on an antibiotic. Worse, the veterinarians that worked with Dunkin didn’t know how to resolve the problem.

Dunkin’s genetic problem forced its hand when he suddenly stopped moving. Aimee rushed Dunkin to the emergency veterinary clinic for surgery. Under the surgeon’s knife, the inside of Dunkin’s abdomen looked like Swiss cheese. There were numerous growths and cysts with one cyst rupturing the stomach wall.

Unable to repair the problem, the vet concentrated on the rupture. It was not recommended to remove Dunkin’s prostate for fear it would exacerbate the problem. Without a solid plan for the young dog, any attempt to fix the problem could only spell more health problems.

Dunkin remained at the veterinary hospital for a week, showing very little sign of improvement. Finally, the hospital asked to open Dunkin back up. They were concerned that they did not get all of the rupture, and the prostate was possibly still leaking.

Without the second surgery, Dunkin would have died, so Aimee said yes.

This surgery worked on the wall lining, placing additional tissue into the walls to reinforce them and hopefully, to keep the prostate from leaking. Even though the surgery was deemed a success, it was only a band-aid.

Post-surgery, multiple cysts continued to grow. Worse, the prostate filled with infected urine and bacteria that were increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Without a more aggressive approach, Dunkin would develop sepsis or kidney failure leading to death.

That’s when she was referred to a veterinary specialist, Dr. Garnette.

For 18 months following the last surgery, Dunkin continued to get fluid filled cysts in his prostate. Aimee would take him to the vet every couple of months to be tested. Each time, he was positive for an infection.

Time was running out. Dr. Garnette, Aimee’s vet, discussed with her the possibility of performing a pre-pubic urethrostomy on Dunkin. This procedure would re-route his urethra, bypassing the area in his prostate where the cysts form. The theory was that the infected cysts would stop forming because blood would no longer be supplied to that area.  With a 75% success rate, the surgery would allow Dunkin to urinate like a female dog.

Without it, Dunkin would continue to get infections, which would mean he would become completely resistant to antibiotics, and his body would not be able to fight off the infections.

It was at this time that Aimee lost her job of 23 years. Already $50,000 in credit card debt trying to save Dunkin, she had no idea what to do. When she looked into this brave little dog’s eyes and saw the love there, she simply could not give up on him.

But she had absolutely drained her financial resources. Dr. Garnette gave her some non-profit resources to research for financial help. That’s when she found The Mosby Foundation.

Here at the foundation, we’ve helped a lot of unusual health conditions but we have never experienced a condition like Dunkin’s. We took one look at his sweet face and immediately started a fundraiser for him.

It took some time, but we raised the funds for his surgery. Aimee was ecstatic. “This could not have happened without your help,” she said gratefully.

Preparing for what could be life-changing surgery for Dunkin, Dr. Garnette took a CT scan of his abdomen. Sadly, after viewing the scan, the vet did not think Dunkin had enough urethra left to remove the prostate.

However, surgery was performed to drain the cysts, which had become huge. Unfortunately, Dunkin responded poorly to the surgery. He got sick, threw up, wouldn’t eat and passed blood in his urine.

Aimee was devastated. Little Dunkin did re-bound finally with the help of a new antibiotic based on urine culture results.

“Now what we need is a new surgical recommendation from Dr. Garnette,” Aimee told us. “He’s researching other options. Hopefully, he’ll come up with something for us.”

It took several months of professional consultations with his colleagues, but at last, Dr. Garnette came back with some alternate recommendations. One possibility is hormone therapy, but the details have not yet been worked out.

Although Dunkin’s life hangs in the balance, he doesn’t know how to question his future.

Instead, he enjoys every day with Aimee, living fully in the moment.

That’s a gift most of us will never know.